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PAGE TWO American voters rejected the liberal tradition in the elections of 1978 and 1980 for two reasons, Mass. Sen. Paul Tsongas writes in his stimulating new book The Road from Here.* First, many liberals failed to make a distinction between values and programs. “A liberal program devised in pursuit of a given value was held to be sacrosanct,” he writes, “even if it was inappropriate, ineffective, or abused; the program itself became the object of loyalty, not the value it was intended to serve.” A second, more complex, reason, as Tsongas sees it, has to do with limits. Liberals confused what should be with what could be, ignoring limits imposed *Paul Tsongas, The Road from Here: Liberalism and Realities in the 1980’s. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1981, $12.95, 280 pp. by time and place. By doing so, they forfeited “the consensus that is needed to translate their values into policy.” They got stuck, in other words, in a rut made smooth and comfortable by fifty years of success. But as Tsongas sees it, the liberal legacy basically the New Deal in various manifestations from FDR to LBJ is a thing of the past. Liberalism itself, he emphasizes, is not outmoded, but some redefining is very much in order. In what amounts to an elaboration of views he set forth last year in a speech before the Americans for Democratic Action, Tsongas calls for a profound and vigorous re-thinking both of basic philosophy and of what he calls “realities.” He identifies eight realities: finite energy resources, Soviet aggressiveness, eco nomic productivity, resource allocation, Third World nationalism, international trade competition, environmental overload, inflation. On some of the issues threats to the environment for example he sounds like the traditional liberal; on others he resembles the “closet conservative” some have accused him of being. He believes, for example, that we must continue to rely on nuclear power while exploring other, potentially renewable forms of energy. He also calls for increased military spending in response to Soviet aggressiveness. Tsongas’ discussion of vital issues, as he sees them, is useful and provocative, and I recommend the book, but agreeing or disagreeing with the Senator from Mass. is beside the point; what is important is his willingness to question dogma, his challenge to us to re-think and re-assess. It’s particularly important, it seems to me, to the Texas Observer and to Observer readers. The state we live in is not the one Dugger, Brammer, Sherrill, Morris, et. al. covered so ably twenty-five years ago, nor is it the place Molly Ivins energetically engaged a decade later. New people, new concerns, new “realities” abound. Who are we today? How do we work and live? How do we govern ourselves? What do we think and feel? What are our “realities”? In the weeks and months to come, those are the questions we will address in these pages. As readers with thoughts, ideas, and suggestions, we urge you to join us. J.H. The Observer and The Road From Here TEXAS sERvER Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate. A journal of free voices Vol. 73, No. 20 7.'”:”.;^113r1 October 9, 1981 Editor and Publisher: Ronnie Dugger Co-Editor: Joe Holley Staff Reporter: Ruperto Garcia Washipgton Correspondent: Bob Sherrill Research Director in Washington: Katharine C. Fain EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, El Paso; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; John Kenneth Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn, Durham, N.C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, New York City; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Austin; James Presley, Texarkana, Tx.; Susan Reid, Austin; A.R. Tehachapi, Ca.; Alfred J. Watkins, Austin. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Warren Burnett, Jo Clifton, John Henry Faulk, Bill Helmer, Jack Hopper, Laurence Jolidon, Lyman Jones, Mary Lenz, Matt Lyon, Greg Moses, Janie Paleschic, Laura Richardson, M. P. Rosenberg, Bob Sindermann, Jr., Paul Sweeney, Lawrence Walsh. CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Alan Pogue, Grant Fehr, Bob Clare, Russell Lee, Scott Van Osdol, Ronald Cortes CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS: Berke Breathed, Jeff Danziger, Ben Sargent, Mary Margaret Wade, Gail Woods We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them because this is a journal of free voices. Business Manager: Frances Barton Office Manager: Joe Espinosa, Jr. Advertising, Special Projects: Cliff Olofson The Texas Observer postage paid at Austin,.Texas. years, $56. One year rate for full-time students, $13. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from Microfilming Corporation of America, Box 10, Sanford, N.C. 27330. Copyright 1981 by Texas Observer Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. 2 OCTOBER 9, 1981 POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to: 600 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701.